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Can the Province’s stablemate, the Sun be far behind?

As I settled into this past Friday’s breakfast, I glanced at the title of the Vancouver Province editorial and saw “Hydro needs to get back to its roots”. To my utter astonishment I read the following words in the editorial itself: “a large part of the problems at Hydro is the government insistence that it pursue costly private run of the river projects and other so called ‘green’ initiatives. A look at Hydro’s annual report shows the folly of this approach“. (emphasis mine)

Where the hell have they been as this ghastly program moved inexorably down the path to one environmental disaster after another, bankrupting BC Hydro along the way?

The Province goes on to state that in 2010 private power used by Hydro cost them 9X what they could make it for themselves. In fact it’s worse – because Hydro must “take or pay” for IPP power which is predominantly available during the spring “run off”, and so comes when Hydro doesn’t need it. Thus Hydro must either take the power at 9-12 times what they can make it for or export it at a 50%+ loss.

Some business deal from the “business” government!

I’m all but speechless at this editorial – and as you may have noticed it takes a lot for that to happen. What the Province and presumably Postmedia (successors to Canwest) – which owns both the Sun and the Province – are saying is exactly what many environmentalists have for several years and been vilified for it!

Surely they didn’t come to this decision over a evening beer last Thursday so one must ask The Province,  “when did you reach this conclusion?”  Nothing has changed for seven or eight years – what made you see the light? And why weren’t you frank with your readers the moment you concluded that this plan was “folly”?

Both the Sun and Province have excellent writers if they are left alone to write – why weren’t they let loose to examine this issue with the same energy and talent they pursued when they (quite properly) took on then Premier Clark about a friendly neighbour wanting a gambling license and the “fast ferries” scandal?

The contrast between the Vancouver dailies during the NDP years and the Liberal decade can only be explained by assuming that they believe that it’s their responsibility to keep the NDP out of office. The old fashioned tradition of holding government’s feet to the fire clearly ended with the election of Campbell & Co.

The truth of the matter is that this issue didn’t drift down the river on a piece of bark. These papers have been stifling news and comment, either by non-reporting or terrible reporting, for half a decade. The IPP issue has been raised over and over not only by Damien Gillis and me, and the Wilderness Committee, but many others, yet if all you knew about the matter was through the media, you would know virtually nothing about it.

Isn’t it the media’s duty to fairly inform customers when it comes to news? And to present thought-provoking hard talk from their columnists?

The gut instinct of journalists is to question in depth all decisions of government. This simply hasn’t happened and their very best writers have been struck dumb. One can only conclude that Canwest cum Postmedia censors its news and editorial staff and, by its policy, forces columnists to self-censor. Absent any credible denial, one must conclude that the publisher hires editors who know what they want, and won’t print that which is contrary to the official line. You cannot blame columnists for putting their families before fighting for their traditional role. I know the feeling – I once was forced to grovel and it’s a very unpleasant thing to have to do.

I cannot and do not state that this is what happens – only that in the absence of a full explanation to the contrary, reasonable people are likely to reach this conclusion

British Columbians have a right to see these sweetheart IPP contracts and find out why the Campbell government concluded that damaging our environment, bankrupting BC Hydro, and driving our power bills through the roof was a sound policy. They are also entitled to expect decent media to ferret out matters of this sort and report upon them fully and fairly. This, I need hardly say, hasn’t happened.

I agree with the Province saying that Campbell & Co’s policy was “folly”, but what took them so long? The evidence was all there for them to see – what possible legitimate reason was there to, by their silence, tacitly support the government and its greedy corporate friends?
If the Province and the Sun wishes to do some penance they must do three things :

  1. Explain why it took so long for them to criticize their own policy towards the Campbell government’s energy policy.
  2. State why they haven’t dealt at all with the savaging of our rivers and their ecologies, pursuant to this policy, while approving, by their silence, the bankrupting of BC Hydro.
  3. Assure the public that they will start investigating with the thoroughness they once did of all major government initiatives, reporting back honestly, and that they will permit, no insist, that their columnists investigate all the establishment and let us have it as they see it.

One can only hope…

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